Texas Judge’s Ruling Raises Questions on Red-Light Cameras

December 5, 2008

A Dallas judge has issued a civil court ruling that a company has no authority to monitor intersections with red-light cameras unless it holds a license as an investigations company.

State District Judge Craig Smith said in an opinion in late November that ACS State and Local Solutions violated the Texas Occupations Code.

But the city of Dallas, which contracts with ACS, said that the ruling won’t affect its red-light camera system.

Furthermore, lawyers with the Texas Department of Public Safety, which issues investigative licenses, have said they don’t believe such companies need to be licensed.

Smith asked ACS to respond to his ruling by the end of this week. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 17.

ACS denies any wrongdoing and “will continue to defend our position,” spokesman Kevin Lightfoot told The Dallas Morning News for its Wednesday online editions. He said the company does not believe it is in violation of any local laws or regulations.

Smith’s ruling has led to two federal class-action lawsuits involving red-light camera companies – Redflex Traffic Systems and American Traffic Solutions, both based in Arizona. Neither is licensed in Texas.

Dallas attorney Lloyd Ward filed the original civil case against ACS after his wife got a citation in 2007 from Dallas and ACS. He also filed the class-action suits after the judge’s ruling.

Ward is asking the companies to reimburse thousands of motorists who paid fines.

Josh Weiss, a spokesman with ATS, says his company is looking to hire legal counsel and “will work closely with our partners on appropriate next steps to ensure this case is quickly dismissed.”

A call made to Redflex by The Associated Press was not immediately returned Dec. 3.

Red-light camera violations are civil, not criminal matters. Citations in Dallas typically run $75 and do not count against driving or insurance records. Cities generally receive a portion of the fines.

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